Religion gets rough ride in media, Irish editor warns

The Irish media is a “very hostile environment” for people of faith, one of Ireland’s most influential editors has warned.

Fintan O’Toole said that he had “a lot of sympathy” with people who believe that religion gets rough treatment at the hands of the media.

During an interview with The Irish Catholic newspaper Mr O’Toole, assistant editor at The Irish Times, also branded the media’s coverage of religion as “snobbish and dismissive”.


He warned that “a lot of people are worried about representing themselves as people of faith because of the way the media can often be snobbish and dismissive.

“I think people are quite right to be upset about that and critical of the attitude – I think it is there.”

And he said that he would like to see “the space for all people of faith – not just Christians – to be able to make arguments without being dismissed and to be seen at the very least as equals.

“In general, I don’t think the complaint is inaccurate. I think it’s a reasonably well-founded complaint that the media in general do not reflect that reality.”


Earlier this year one of the BBC’s former news anchors warned that christians are “fair game” for insults at the corporation whilst Muslims must not be offended.

Peter Sissons said: “Islam must not be offended at any price, although Christians are fair game because they do nothing about it if they are offended.”

The veteran presenter, who fronted news and current affairs programmes at the BBC, also said that staff damage their careers if they don’t follow the BBC’s mindset.


He said: “In my view, ‘bias’ is too blunt a word to describe the subtleties of the pervading culture. The better word is a ‘mindset’.”

In 2008 David Blevins, a former Washington correspondent with Sky News, warned that journalists select the information they wish to report based on a largely anti-Christian ideology.

When Mr Blevins was asked if the UK and American media understand evangelical Christians he replied: “Not at all.”

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